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NY Theatre Review: ‘Dime Heroes’

Who are your heroes?

Dime Heroes opens with some "underdog music," to wit Modest Mouse and Wolf Parade. Kurt (Steven Solomon), in his bathrobe, staggers to his drawing table, has a shot of whiskey, and begins to work on comic book illustrations. Soon, his teenage son John (Brett Dameron) enters, effectively breaking in after Kurt ignores the knocking on the door. The two don't see much of each other, possibly because Kurt is intimidating or because John is more comfortable living with his remarried mother and more "normal" step-father. In any case, several weeks of takeout food garbage must be cleaned so that John can prepare for his surprise guest: his new girlfriend, Marcy. Incidentally, that day at school John saw some kids picking on a nerdy guy named Jimmy and fought them off.

Marcy (Ashley Dillard), soft-spoken, from Georgia, in the habit of calling older men "Sir," is initially impressed with the slovenly Kurt and his career as an illustrator. She makes conversation about the comic Captain America, which first appeared in 1941, the year the U.S. entered World War II. The three discuss what it means to fight for an ideal.

John, alone with Marcy, cannot summon the courage to stay and talk with his father about the agreed-upon urgent topic. Marcy, left alone with Kurt, reveals that she is pregnant. John really does respect his father, and came to ask for advice he can't get anywhere else. Even though Kurt is no longer employed and wants to shut the world out, can father and son trust each other? Can Kurt resist the temptation to steer John away from the mistakes he himself made when young? The more that Kurt doubts himself (fueled also by the suicide of his other child several years ago) the more angry he gets at John. At the end, John's picked-on classmate Jimmy (Kelvin Osaze Ehigie) comes by with a message of thanks.

Eric Kingrea's writing is solid. Perhaps the most wonderful thing about parents is their heroic, mythical stature. It is remarkable to see a show which hones in on something so important to all generations of parents and children. It is also breathtaking to see a father convinced that his son has taken a stand for something. Kimberly Faith Hickman's direction showcases Kurt's talent and integrity (which he is increasingly afraid to show to the world), Marcy's surprising honesty and courage (she knows exactly how she wants to handle her pregnancy, whether the men are on board or not) and John's awe for his father which degenerates into anger (with a tad too much screaming).

Emily Suzanne Sumner's set summarizes the play well: a beautiful center artfully covered in garbage. Propmaster Tony Wolf also deserves credit for this beautiful mess of art and trash. Jens Rasmussen's fight direction brings the conflict in the play to the level of quite touching.

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